A victim of unfortunate timing, the 7800 was released shortly before the great video game crash of 1983. Re-launched by Atari in 1986 as a competitor to the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System, the Atari 7800 was backwards compatible with original Atari 2600 titles.
In 2009, IGN chose the 7800 to be their 17th best video game console of all time. They justified this relatively low ranking (though higher than every other Atari console save the 2600) with the summary statement: "Its delayed release, its cancelled peripherals, and a lack of financial backing from the company's new owners all combined to ensure that Atari 7800 would never see any success beyond being a sexier way of playing Atari 2600 titles."
Atari was hampered by exclusive rights-publishing agreements many game publishers had signed with Nintendo, meaning popular games released on the NES could not be released on competing systems such as the 7800 until two years later. An expansion port was included on the original Atari 7800 system. Designed for a planned computer keyboard, connection to laser disc players, or other expansion usage, the port was removed in later hardware revisions and never used. Fewer than 100 Atari 7800-specific titles were released.
Several key factors influenced the design of the 7800. First, Atari had been facing mounting pressure from the ColecoVision, which boasted graphics that more closely mirrored arcade games of the time than Atari’s reigning 2600 VCS system. Second, the Atari 5200 (the original intended successor to the Atari 2600 VCS) had been widely criticized for not being able to play Atari 2600 VCS games without an adapter.
The Atari 7800 was the third generation of the Atari consoles, and has the best graphics, but fewest games.
Through use of the JSMESS emulation system, the following cartridges are playable at the Internet Archive.
|Color Selector||Diagnostic Test Cartridge||Double Dragon|
|F-18 Hornet||Food Fight||GATO|
|Kung-Fu Master||Mean||Pete Rose Baseball|
|Rampage||Senso 7800 DX4||Space War Rev|
|Super Skateboardin||Tank Command||Title Match Pro Wrestling|
|Tomcat - The F-14 Fighter Simulator||Water Ski|
These cartridges are currently viewable only as image and video presentations at the request of Atari, Inc.
|3D Asteroids||Ace of Aces||Alien Brigade|
|Crossbow||Dark Chambers||Desert Falcon|
|Dig Dug||Donkey Kong||Donkey Kong Junior|
|Fatal Run||Fight Night||Galaga|
|Hat Trick||Ikari Warriors||Impossible Mission|
|Klax||Mario Bros.||Mat Mania Challenge|
|Meltdown||Midnight Mutants||Motor Psycho|
|Ms. Pac-Man||Ninja Golf||One-on-One Basketball|
|Pit Fighter||Planet Smashers||Pole Position II|
|RealSports Baseball||Robotron - 2084||Scrapyard Dog|
|Sentinel||Summer Games||Super Huey UH-1X|
|Touchdown Football||Tower Toppler||Winter Games|